Plum Landing: Family and Afterschool Evaluation Report
Plum Landing (http://pbschildren.org/plumlanding/) is produced by WGBH Educational Foundation (http://wgbh.org), the Public Broadcasting Service affiliate based in Boston, MA. The website, Plum Landing, follows the adventures of an animated space alien, named Plum, after her spaceship crash-lands on Earth. With funding from the National Science Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Kendeda Fund, and the Northern Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. WGBH worked closely with a panel of science advisors to create an “innovative, environmental science curriculum for 6-9 year olds.” Plum Landing is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and is designed to give children an understanding of the science underlying healthy ecosystems and sustainability. Plum Landing includes more than 60 animated stories and live action videos and games based on Plum’s various destinations on Earth. The website also includes a drawing tool called the Nature Sketchpad that enables players to tackle a mission that features a particular plant or animal. Nature Sketchpad allows players to create images to save or “share” with Plum. Plum Landing also includes a free iPhone app, Plum's Photo Hunt, that encourages children to head outside to tackle “missions” by photographing nature. Photos may be saved (to the device) or sent to Plum for review and possible posting in the online galleries or on social media. The Plum Landing digital curriculum offers resources for educators to extend the learning into a variety of settings: afterschool programs (such as Girls Inc., Girl Scouts USA, YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs); summer camps; and programs coordinated by museums and local public television stations. The curriculum's pathways provide a collection of hands-on science activities and media resources—animations, videos, games, a photo app and more—arranged in a thematic sequence and aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. Plum Landing also includes activities for parents that may be used outside with their children to explore the world together. Concord Evaluation Group (CEG) conducted an evaluation of Plum Landing in fall of 2014. The study included two components: (1) a national, home-based randomized controlled experiment that included 52 families in a treatment group (using Plum Landing resources) and 52 families in a control group (not using Plum Landing resources), and (2) an afterschool-based, randomized block design study that included 126 children across four treatment group sites (using Plum Landing resources) and four control group sites (not using Plum Landing resources). Both studies incorporated pre-test and post-test surveys.